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With Every Loss, There is an Opportunity

With Every Loss, There is an Opportunity

Last week, I had the great fortune to attend Dave Fost’s, my uncle, funeral in a suburb of Toronto. Dave was an outstanding man and mentor to many, including me. He was a fun loving, passionate man who took great interest in the lives of his nephews. He was the uncle everyone would want to have.

Dave Fost, Shawn Stratton

Uncle Dave drove 3 hours to see me give a 40 minute presentation.

Friends and family were coming from near and far to attend the celebration of this wonderful man. At first, it seemed my whole family would be traveling to Ontario for the funeral except for me. I was scheduled to attend a conference the previous weekend in Halifax and would be away from home 5 days already.

With Alexandra’s (my wife) demanding work schedule and two small kids at home, this would already be maxing out the time I could be away from home without employing extra help.

When my parents learned Uncle Dave’s funeral would take place just days before my mother’s 70th birthday, they thought it would be a great opportunity for our family to spend the weekend together to celebrate her birthday. My two brothers who were traveling from Vancouver and Brazil to attend the funeral were thrilled about the birthday celebration plan and would join them for the weekend. It was decided to have the birthday weekend in Montreal.

I was excited for them to be able to spend the time together but saddened that I wouldn’t be able to make the trip, given my prior commitments and family demands.

You Have To Ask

Everyone, including Alexandra, wanted me to be able to attend both of these important family events.

Being the great planner and problem solver that she is, Alexandra came up with a plan to ask a dear friend, who thought she may be passing through town and have some free time that week, if she could stay with them for a week and help out with the kids. It turns out her friend was able to stay with us and loved the idea. Not only would her friend get to help us out, but she would also be able to spend some time with her brother’s family who also live in our city. This was another opportunity from this loss.

Having her friend stay with us to help out with the kids meant I would be able to attend the funeral and join my family for my mother’s birthday celebration in Montreal for the weekend!

As I write this, I am on the plane returning from the fantastic trip.

My Aunt Janet and cousin Krista did an incredible job planning the funeral that Uncle Dave would have wanted. At Uncle Dave’s request Krista gave an eulogy that highlighted her fathers life which brought much laughter and tears and displayed her outstanding public speaking skills. Honestly I don’t know how she kept it together. It was also nice to see distant family members I hadn’t seen in years. It is unfortunate it often take a funeral for these encounters to happen.



When Uncle Dave passed away two months earlier, I could not have imagined all the wonderful opportunities the timing and location of his funeral would provide my family and me. I know being the devout family man, he would be thrilled! There were many opportunities this event provided to my family including:

  • For the first time in years family was able to spend some quality time together without kids around. (We LOVE our kids but it is a different kind of visit with them around.)
  • My mother had all three of her kids with her to celebrate her birthday, which has not happened in at least 20 years.
  • For the first time in 15 years, I was able to see my cousin and meet her four children whom I had heard so much about.
The Stratton's in old Montreal

The Stratton’s in old Montreal

Without the loss of my uncle and the timing of his funeral, our family would have never been able to spend this quality time together celebrating my mother’s milestone birthday. Uncle Dave would have been thrilled to know he played an integral role in bring us together for the weekend.

In every loss, there this is opportunity. Sometimes you may need to work a little harder to find it.

Action: Instead of dwelling on your next loss, no matter how big or small, find and focus on the wonderful opportunities it has created.

How have you generated opportunities from a loss? Let me know in the comments section below.

Until next week… Embrace the Adventure!


Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, Ironman competitor, and expedition guide.

Click here to learn more about how Shawn can help your organization.